Former Crow Canyon Intern Heads Alaska Native Corporation

Elizabeth Perry, who worked as an intern at Crow Canyon, has been named chief executive officer of Koniag, Inc.

Liz PerryAccording to the corporation’s website, Koniag is one of 13 regional Native corporations established by Congress in 1971 under the terms of the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act (ANCSA). ANCSA settled the aboriginal land claims of Alaska Native people by conveying land and seed capital to Native for-profit corporations representing various geographic regions of the state. Koniag was incorporated in 1972 to manage the land and financial assets on behalf of the corporation’s approximately 3,800 Alutiiq shareholders who originated from the Kodiak Archipelago. The corporation is headquartered in Kodiak, Alaska, with an office in Anchorage.

Lessons from Crow Canyon have helped her throughout her career, she said.

“Everyone I was fortunate enough to work with at Crow Canyon had such a genuine commitment to listening to many voices in the process of creating knowledge about the past. I took away from Crow Canyon the profound importance of doing the hard work of integrating seemingly conflicting perspectives into my understanding of the world.

“Whether trying to understand the archaeological record as a graduate student, or trying to understand the needs of our Native Alaskan shareholders as a business executive, this practice has been critical for me. Careers are advanced in a meaningful way by embracing unfamiliar perspectives and voices, and taking them into account.”

Liz was a Crow Canyon education intern in 1995, as she was completing her undergraduate degree.

“I was strongly attracted to the focus on both research and education, and the way these endeavors are constantly intersecting each other in practice at Crow Canyon,” she said. "I thought that the focus on education at many levels―from school-age children to adult professionals―challenged researchers to create truly meaningful ways of communicating technical and scientific knowledge. I wanted very much to be a part of what was going on at Crow Canyon.

 “Margie Connolly taught me the quiet art of contributing to the education of others while allowing yourself to be educated by them. Mark Varien and Jim Potter encouraged me and taught me how to grapple with the quantitative and interpretive qualities of archaeology, and launched me into graduate school.

“I would have loved to stay and continue to work with all of the staff, the Native American Advisory Group that had been formed, and the students. I am continually impressed with the quality of research produced at Crow Canyon over the years and the creative education programs offered.”

Dr. Perry earned a doctorate in anthropology, with emphases in Southwest archaeology and social theory, from the University of Arizona in 2004. She joined SWCA Environmental Consultants as an archaeologist for the Animas-La Plata Project in southwest Colorado while completing her dissertation in 2002, went on to direct SWCA's Cultural Resources Program in the Great Basin, working her way up to vice president of Pacific West operations. She began working in Alaska and opened SWCA’s Anchorage office in 2008. She began her Koniag position on March 1, 2014.

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